Chicago Bears: Velus Jones, WR
The Chicago Bears lost wide receiver Allen Robinson to the Los Angeles Rams. Jones played with the Bears for three seasons, capping his 2020 season with 102 receptions for 1,250 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns.
Robinson’s 102 receptions tied him with Matt Forte for the second-most in franchise history for a single season. It was a significant loss for Chicago in the off-season and the team did not have the draft capital to build.
Enter Wide Receiver, Velus Jones. Chicago chose him as he could fill the shoes of the departed Robinson. The Bears drafted Velus Jones in the third round of the 2022 NFL draft. One of his features is his 40-yard dash time clocking in under 4.4 with a 4.31.
Jones fits the post of a developmental slot receiver and returns player. The 24-year-old from the University of Tennessee Volunteers played a modest role throughout his college career. Jones’ speed and ability with the ball in his hands is engaging. His big-play ability will be essential to the Bears.
Another trait that Jones has is his versatility. His competitive Toughness as an impressive competitor shows up in how he blocks and attacks with the ball in his hands. He isn’t shy about squaring his pads and challenging defenders with good contact balance.
He is able to adapt and improvise with good spatial awareness and the modest route-running technique he showcased in 2021.
Detroit Lions: Jameson Williams, WR
The Detroit Lions selected Wide Receiver Jameson Williams in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. The Lions traded their number 12 overall pick to secure Williams on their side of the fence.
Williams started his college football career with 22 games playing for the Ohio State Buckeyes. He started in six matches, grabbing 15 receptions for 266 yards and three touchdowns.
Williams delivered a touchdown on a 45-yard catch in the 2021 Sugar Bowl against Clemson Tigers. After which, he transferred to the Alabama Crimson Tide in the following season.
The Wide Receiver received the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 4 after returning three kickoffs for 177 yards and a pair of touchdowns; he also caught an 81-yard touchdown pass in a 63-14 win over Southern Miss Golden Eagles.
The Alabama wideout played only a season with the team but made the most of his stay by starting in all 15 of Alabama’s games in the 2021 season; Williams finished second on the team in receptions with 79 on the season.
In addition, he led the Crimson Tide wideouts by a significant margin with his 1,572 receiving yards. Averaging 19.9 yards per reception, Williams
also brought in 15 touchdowns on the season. Unfortunately, he suffered a torn ACL in the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship game against the Georgia Bulldogs.
Williams is the 2nd draft pick to join Offensive Tackle Evan Neal, another pick from the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. Neal was earlier selected by the New York Giants as the seventh overall pick.
The Lions were excited to trade up and draft the wideout because he has the speed that only a select few wideouts in the history of the NFL possessed. He looked like he played at another speed while in college at Alabama, and likely only dropped to the Lions because of a knee injury.
Williams might not be ready to play in Week 1, but will soon be lighting the zone when healthy.
Green Bay Packers: Christian Watson, WR
The Green Bay Packers lost WR Davante Adams in a trade with the Las Vegas Raiders on March 18, 2022. The Packers exchanged Adams for their 2022 first-round pick and 2nd-round pick. Green Bay had a void gaping and chose Christian Watson to fill in the gap left by Adams.
North Dakota State Bison product Christian Watson was at No. 34 overall. Green Bay was not due to pick until No. 53 but made a deal with NFC North rival Minnesota to move up.
The Packers sent two second-round selections (No. 53 and 59) to the Vikings in order to jump up to the top of Day 2. Watson was selected as the 2nd pick of the 2nd round (34th overall) in the 2022 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. He was the seventh wide receiver selected in the draft.
On July 20, 2022, he signed his rookie contract worth a signing bonus of just under $4.6 million for a total value of $10.19 million.
Watson joins first-rounders Trevor Penning (Northern Iowa) and Cole Strange (Chattanooga) as NCAA Football Championship Subdivision prospects who landed in the Top 35.
The tall wideout is making a big jump from North Dakota State, but having Aaron Rodgers delivering him passes should help strengthen his potential.
Minnesota Vikings: Za’Darius Smith, OLB
The Minnesota Vikings went after Offensive Linebacker Za’Darius Smith, 29, who played just 18 snaps this past season and underwent back surgery to repair an injury.
If he were to sign with the Vikings, he and Danielle Hunter, who has played in just seven games over the past two seasons due to injuries, would create one of the best 1-2 pass-rushing punches in the NFL. Smith is one of the best when healthy.
Smith’s addition to the Vikings lineup gives defensive coordinator Ed Donatell a weapon to work with, though he’ll need his starters to stay healthy unlike in seasons past.
Donatell’s got Smith and Hunter attacking from the edges, with “Horrible” Harrison Phillips and Dalvin Tomlinson on the interior. The linebackers consist of Eric Kendricks and Jordan Hicks.
That is a lot of big guns going after the quarterback, which might be paramount in 2022 considering Harrison Smith is the only bonafide starter set to return in the secondary.
Minnesota’s pass rush hasn’t been the same over the last two seasons, but there’s reason to expect a rebound with Smith on the edge. He made back-to-back Pro Bowls before missing most of last season.